I confess, I am a recovering sugar addict. It started when I was just a youngster, a child of divorce with lots of emotional baggage. By the age of 9, I could eat a whole half gallon of neopolitan on any given afternoon. Mom would buy us Ding Dongs and Ho Ho’s from the Wonderbread store. In my lunchbox, I’d get graham crackers with chocolate frosted smeared in the middle. Mmmmm I loved those!!! It’s just a fact that food was the love language in my home.
We were poor, and sweets were very, very comforting. I’m not blaming anyone, but rather sharing how my addiction came to be. If you grew up in the 60’s or 70’s, I’ll bet you had a similar diet. We just didn’t know then, what we know now!
My sugar addiction was also wrapped up in emotional eating, so it was a real double whammy. From my teen years until just this last year, I would feed fear, anxiety, stress and anger with chocolate, coffee, and ice cream. I mean, I LITERALLY felt like I HAD TO HAVE that sugar fix in order to have a clear head and to breathe easy. All the while, I was hating myself for the cravings, for the lack of resistance to it, and for the horrible effects it had on my health. We’re talking, bladder infections, yeast infections, bloating, headaches, swollen joints, backache, moodiness, fatigue, acid reflux, and the like. I felt like a slave to my gut. It screamed out for more, and I fed it whether I really wanted to or not. It was a horrible, depressing feeling which spiraled me into more binge eating to comfort myself. I was a mess!
When I finally committed to learn how to “eat clean,” it was a very gradual process. I would eat the right portions of all the right food groups. I ate fresh, organic meats and vegetables… but when I felt stressed out, I made my husband drive me to Baskin Robbins for a double scoop of Jamocha Almond Fudge. No Lie!!! It took a month to get the hang of it, 2 months to like it, and the 3 months before I decided it was really stupid to sabotage myself every week. I also started to feel better. My gut was being healed with the nutrient rich food I was consuming. I broke my meals down into 5-6 smaller meals every 2-3 hours. My blood sugar was leveled out again and my energy was renewed! But it took time. And patience. And humility.
If you don’t have a sugar issue, then good on ya!! 🙂 I am so happy for you! But the rest of this post is for those who know exactly what I’m talking about. The struggle with overcoming sugar addiction is real. But I’m here to help! I’d like to share what I’ve learned in my journey and in my research about breaking the sugar addiction cycle.
- Start reading labels. Most processed foods contain high fructose corn syrup or some other form of processed sugar. Chemical additives can cause your sugar cravings to increase! To see a list of additives to avoid, click here.
- Clean up your coffee. Get rid of non-dairy creamers that are actually just oil and chemicals. This was one of the first things I did. I started using Nutpods, which is an almond/coconut blend creamer. It’s non-dairy, no yucky additives, and they even have french vanilla and hazelnut flavor. You can find it on Amazon here. Swap your sugar for honey, or naturally derived stevia. And to make it really nice, get a little foamer to whip up that coffee and make your own little latte at home. Sprinkle with a dash of cinnamon…Mmmm I can’t drink it any other way now!
- Look at your milk. You may think drinking Almond Milk or Coconut milk is healthy, but check the labels. They are not equally created and there is often hidden sugar in the ingredients. I recommend Silk Brand unsweetened vanilla almond milk.
- Swap your sweeteners. When baking, swap out processed sugars for less processed sweeteners like raw honey, pure maple syrup or coconut sugar. Instead of Cocoa or chocolate chips, use organic Cacao Powder and Cacao nibs. (These have been a LIFESAVER for me!)
- Cut out all soda. Don’t replace soda for diet soda either. The artificial sweeteners in diet soda are WORSE and known to cause cancer. Stay away from Vitamin Water and other flavored waters as well. Water, water, water is always best. You can spruce it up with a splash of lemon or lime juice. Sometimes, drinking it with a straw makes it easier to get down. Also, try unflavored bubbly water like San Pellegrino or Perrier.
- Spice it up. Start using spices and some foods to make your food seem sweeter without adding any sugar. Some of those include: cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, applesauce and avocado.
- Drink plenty of water. Drink about half your body weight in ounces, every day. Sometimes, dehydration can masquerade as hunger or fatigue and can trigger a sweets binge. Proper hydration also helps eliminate toxins that increase sugar cravings, and helps with the digestive process.
- Eat 5-6 small meals a day. Plan to eat 5-6 small meals a day as well. Snacks such as a sliced apple and peanut butter or baby carrots and hummus (combining fruit/veggie with healthy fats) will keep your HANGER at bay. Speaking of peanut butter, check the labels here as well! Stick with organic nut butters with only the nut as the ingredient.
- Become an expert in your own health. Keep a food journal and note the times of day you crave sweets, as well as the emotional triggers. We tend to be more generous with our accountability when it’s just in our head. When you put it on paper, you will see the reality and then be able to address it properly.
- Find an accountability partner or group. I host accountability groups every month for people just like you and me. Knowing that someone has your back and is counting on you, will help make all the difference on the most tempting days. Contact me for more details.